Move over Leonard Cohen and Jay Baruchel, there's a new Montrealer vying to be the city's most beloved celebrity: Pluto the 13-year-old schnauzer. Despite being a dog, Pluto has helped millions of viewers with her viral videos that provide advice for navigating the pandemic — as well as plenty of giggles.
"I'm getting the feeling that there's a time of crisis for the two-leggeds and so I thought maybe I could share some perspective from the four-leggeds," said Pluto in her first YouTube video, which was posted in March, and has over 2 million views.
"We like to just chill out at home and we curl up and we wander around and play with a tennis ball and there's lots that you can do."
That's right. With a little help from her "mommy" and modern magic aka technology, this talented pooch can talk — at least when she's on camera.
Pluto's owner Nancie Wight, a wildlife photographer known professionally as NJ Wight, told MTL Blog the videos of Pluto "talking" are not new.
Wight has been using simple software to make them for "people's birthdays, random things in the family and close friends," she said.
When the topic turned to COVID-19, as the world went into lockdown, Wight said her friends urged her to make the videos videos public so they could share them.
"That's really how it started," she said.
Pre-COVID, Wight said Pluto had no online presence whatsoever. Now, she has over 350,000 Facebook followers, 100,000 YouTube subscribers and 120,000 Instagram followers.
"Oh my god. [The response has been] absolutely insane," said Wight.
"What is really incredible is the amount of support and kindness that is so evident on her pages. If somebody has a loss or they have a partner in the hospital or whatever, people rise up and try to help them pull through."
Pluto's fans — many of whom are health-care workers, according to Wight — have even started adopting Pluto's language.
The comments are full of Plutoisms. For example, "whooshing love around the internets."
Followers also tell the schnauzer what "lands" they hail from.
Pluto proudly identifies as being from "the Canadalands," specifically "the Poutinevilles."
But you're unlikely to see her wandering the streets of Montreal.
"She's almost 14 so she doesn't really get out much," said Wight.
Nevertheless, Wight confirmed that — at least in the virtual world — there's a lot more Pluto to come.
Since some of the videos are educational, such as making pizza with Pluto, she's starting her own Pluto Living University, which she described as "an online study place for people with too much time on their hands."
It's completely free though Pluto suggests students bring "a proper snack holder and a hot or cold walkaround sippy cup" to achieve their degree in "random stuff."
At the request of her fans, there is now merchandise.
You're probably thinking: So, if Pluto's so popular, what's some of her best advice for getting through COVID-19?
"Just because you are self-hibernating it doesn't mean you should let yourself go. Self-care is really important–especially if you are by yourself. If a bear stinks in the forest and no one smells him, does he still stink? YES HE DOES!" she wrote on Facebook.
"Be good to yourself and each other. It really takes less energy than growling."